Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 60 (The Second Coming, Casanova, Honey to the Bee)

(81 comments)

So here we are. New website. I would have launched it right with Rose, but, well, it was easier to throw the switch on the weekend. So yes, this is now properly just “my website,” with TARDIS Eruditorum as its primary but not exclusive feature. These posts will still go up reliably in the morning on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with other content filling in as the spirit moves me, so to speak. You can also tour the various pages up above for status updates on various projects, links to buy all sorts of stuff, and the like. Welcome, and thanks to the lovely Anna Wiggins for getting this thing set up. If it falls on your head and causes serious injury, sue her, not me.

And, of course, this is the last post before Rose. Though the way the Kickstarter is going, I expect that any moment now the Rose post will be going up as a backer-exclusive update there. And it’s very much a calm before the storm thing - the low key post before Wednesday’s storm. Last bits of groundwork for the new series. Several points that are tentative and may need refinement. I’m categorizing it as a Pop Between Realities, but we could just as easily call it Notes Towards a Study of the New Series. Or just a discussion of the period of anticipation and lead-up to the new series.

One of the things that jumps out most in Russell T Davies’s early interviews about Doctor Who is his continual focus on the series’ engagement with the tabloid press. It’s easy to pretend this is some sort of landmark moment, but it’s not really at all - John Nathan-Turner was an inveterate tabloid-stoker who carefully and meticulously maintained the series’ public profile by, for instance, letting slip that perhaps the Doctor was going to regenerate into being a woman, or using the hoax title The Doctor’s Wife to try to smoke out someone leaking production information (and, of course, get a wave of publicity to boot). In this regard, Nathan-Turner’s newfound legacy as tabloid-certified paedo (as opposed to actual one) fall somewhere in the grey area between irony and inevitability.

This leaves anyone who wants to, perhaps, criticize Davies for stunt-casting Billie Piper or Catherine Tate on any sort of “purity of the series” grounds in an unfortunate bind. They are hard-pressed to contrast it unfavorably with the Nathan-Turner era, since in that regard Davies’s only sin was actually getting the viewing figures Nathan-Turner dreamed of. One could suggest that the Hinchcliffe and Letts eras were above such stunts, and you’d be more or less correct, but that direction ignores the fact that the nature of British television in that era meant that a merely reasonably popular program like Doctor Who was such a central cultural experience that it didn’t need to go out of its way to connect to other parts of British culture any more than Marmite and the Shipping Forecast did.

But there’s still something jarring about it coming off the wilderness years - the sense that Doctor Who is suddenly catering to The Sun fits bewilderingly poorly with Sometime Never… and Zagreus coming out. They feel as though they are parts of completely different worlds. One might make a slightly snarky bit about how sucking up to Rupert Murdoch cements just how much the new series is a product of New Labour, but really, observing that New Labour is kind of formative in the nature of the new series is about as tricky as suggesting that the Cartmel era had some issues with Margaret Thatcher.

Still, let us remember this basic fact: Doctor Who under Russell T Davies was in constant dialogue with the tabloid press and the larger British culture. This was always a part of what it was doing - from the moment it was announced and the litany of speculation over who the Doctor would be. Which meant that by the time Rose aired the process was well underway. Let’s look at four key aspects.

The most obvious one, of course, is Christopher Eccleston, who is, after all, a Serious Actor. Though even here we need to dive into things just a little bit. Yes, Eccleston is a major and respected Doctor the caliber of which Doctor Who had never come close to seeing before. But he’s not a “great British actor” in, say, the Simon Callow sense. (That we’ll have to deal with in a week.) His roles are generally scruffy, with a dash of working class. He’s a terribly well-respected actor, but crucially, he’s not a stereotypical British actor.

And so the prospect of him playing the Doctor is strange in two different directions at once. On the one hand it’s strange simply because nobody seriously believed that an actor like Christopher Eccleston would play the Doctor, at least not as a serious gig. Yeah, Richard E. Grant was doing the whole Shalka thing, but Grant was always an actor who seemed a little more willing to play a lark of a role, and anyway, he phoned it in and it was a voice job. An actor like Eccleston taking on the role for a full season is a completely different kettle of fish. It was an immediate shot across the bough that earned the series legitimacy that it needed. All the reassurances about how the effects would be better and how this was being designed as a centerpiece of BBC One’s schedule didn’t mean quite as much as the fact that Christopher Eccleston, who largely did not muck around in crap (at least not then - these days he seems to mostly take generic villain roles in mediocre Hollywood blockbusters), was on board.

On the other hand, Christopher Eccleston isn’t a serious actor in the Simon Callow sense of fitting seamlessly and straightforwardly into stuffy period pieces for the export market. Which is to say that it was immediately unfathomable that we were going to get the frock coated cliche that was the Eighth Doctor, simply because casting Christopher Eccleston in that part would be as ridiculous as casting Tom Baker in Eccleston’s role in Our Friends in the North. Eccleston simply is not the actor you would hire if you wanted to do the Doctor in the obvious manner - the one that Rowan Atkinson sent up and Richard E Grant phoned in.

And so casting him immediately turns into a point of tension: what’s this going to be? How do you fit Doctor Who, which is obviously about a cliched Edwardian stereotype of Britain, with Christopher Eccleston, the great actor of the working class? Because the answer is non-obvious. These things don’t seem to fit together. This is, of course, what Doctor Who does, but to see it being done with the basic premise of the show and in the national press is still uncanny - doubly so for Doctor Who fans who mistakenly thought they knew what to expect from the show, or, more to the point, thought they should know.

Television junkies might have had some clues, of course, from The Second Coming, a two-episode Russell T Davies miniseries for ITV that featured Christopher Eccleston eponymously. And while it’s easy pickings to identify thematic similarities, most notably Davies’s longstanding “lonely god” fascination, the fact of the matter is that The Second Coming is very, very different to Doctor Who. Yes, there’s a similarity in how Eccleston plays the parts, but that’s always going to happen. But there’s also a huge difference: Eccleston’s character spends most of The Second Coming not knowing what to do and not fully understanding his situation. He’s at least partially overwhelmed, and the entire point of the exercise is that he doesn’t straightforwardly have the answers. The entire point is that he’s the son of God but he’s just a random Manchester video store worker. He’s the divine taken to its most earthly level.

This isn’t the post for discussing how Davies’s take on the Doctor is different, but it still bears mention. Looking at The Second Coming for what to expect in Doctor Who, one gets the wrong answers, assuming one is going to pick up on Davies’s and Eccleston’s take on the character. You don’t. Yeah, angry Doctor is very similar to the “you lot” speech, but even that’s miles from, say, “another stupid ape” in Father’s Day, and Baxter never gets anything like the manic bits of the Doctor. There are similarities - Davies is, in both cases, concerned with connecting the divine and the working class - but they’re wildly different shows.

Point number two: Billie Piper. Unlike Eccleston, this move did have precedent in the classic series. Disturbingly, however, the precedent was Bonnie Langford. Eric Saward, in the Trials and Tribulations documentary, muses over his reaction when he heard about Langford’s casting, namely asking John Nathan-Turner if she could act. But a similar question hung over Billie Piper, who was both already famous and in no way famous for being an actress. In fact, she was famous for being a deeply mediocre pop sensation in the late 90s/early aughts. If you’re not familiar, you probably want to go experience “Honey To The Bee,” which, while it only reached number three, is by far the most irritatingly earwormish of her ouevre.

In short, Billie Piper was one of the many post-Spice Girls bits of generic female pop to surface. She was largely forgettable except as one of those “oh that one” few-hit-wonders that populate any music charts and are thus vaguely known. She managed a decent tabloid stir by marrying the much older Chris Evans, but she was by and large a forgettable pop byproduct. And so when her music career withered in 2001 she took up acting lessons in pursuit of that most banal of pop star moves, a transition to acting.

And then as her first move she lands the Doctor Who companion role. This, to the outside, looked like madness - after all, the pop star/acting transition is a minefield that hardly anyone crosses well, and so the default assumption was that she’d be absolutely terrible. She wasn’t, of course, but in the leadup to 2005 Russell T Davies was the only one who knew it. Sure, her monologue in the trailers about chucking in an ordinary life for monsters looked good, but it was fifteen seconds. To most of the world it looked like a potential disaster.

Again, note the way this immediately raises the stakes for Doctor Who. Even before its first episode there were cliffhangers and suspense - a continual feeling of “how are they going to pull this one off” that surrounded it. Was it a stunt? Of course it was, but it was a brilliant one. Much like Eccleston, there were two big questions raised. Not only the obvious “is this a disaster waiting to happen,” but the secondary question of what it meant that the series was mashing up a proper, serious actor with a has-been pop princess who (presumably) couldn’t act. Its cheat - that she could act - was a brilliant way of trying to handle that, but it was almost immaterial in the lead-up. These days Billie Piper is more famous for playing Rose Tyler than she is for “Because We Want To,” but at the time it was the strange mystery of how the heck Billie Piper, Christopher Eccleston, and Doctor Who could possibly all fit together.

There is a third strand that we need to trace, however. Technically the bulk of this post-dates Rose by a few days, but it’s not like the rumors didn’t already exist. Eccleston’s departure from the role hung over the entire first season, getting leaked between Rose and The End of the World. This meant that rumors were already in place of the Tenth Doctor’s casting.

Unlike the casting of Eccleston, the casting of Tennant was largely fait accompli - absolutely everybody knew that Tennant was going to be the Tenth Doctor well before it was announced. The reasoning on this was, one imagines, twofold. First, David Tennant was in fact going to be the Tenth Doctor, and every once in a while the truth actually matters to what gets reported in tabloid land. Second, and perhaps more crucially, Tennant was a known Doctor Who fan who had just worked with Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner on Casanova.

This also means that Casanova served as another tea leaf in the “what will Doctor Who be like” game, although in a stranger way that ended up assuming a future for the program that was in no way established yet. As like-for-like comparisons go, Casanova turned out to largely be a better barometer of Doctor Who than The Second Coming. For one thing, the characters were more similar: Casanova, like the Doctor, is a hyper-competent charmer, and David Tennant does in fact play the characters in much the same way. For another, Casanova shared Doctor Who’s love for the visual with its glammed-up, high color period setting.

But more important than the details of how Casanova does or doesn’t inform Doctor Who - after all, the “let’s mine Davies’s earlier work for clues to Doctor Who” game has been very elaborately played by other people, including, possibly excessively, this blog - is the basic fact that Doctor Who’s future rapidly became part of its present. Casanova wrapped its final episode on BBC Three four days before Rose, and began a BBC One re-airing the Monday after The End of the World, making the spectre of Tennant’s Doctor something that hung over the debut of Doctor Who.

And this is crucial context for Rose. Really, it’s crucial context for the entire new series, which is constantly in immediate dialogue with the world around it and balancing narrative and tabloid revelations against each other - consider, for instance, the interplay of The Next Doctor and the reveal of Matt Smith as the next Doctor. This is how the new series works - as an eminently present moment that unfolds within the British culture. To understand Doctor Who without reference to that cultural context is ludicrous.

And that brings us to Wednesday. I’m pretty much going to let Wednesday stand on its own merits. I’m not going to plug the Kickstarter other than the semi-permanent link at the top of the page, or provide any chatty meta-commentary, or, really, anything like that. It’ll just be a nice, austere 13,000-word wall of text.

But I do have one request. Right now my most popular posts are the ones on Buffy and Firefly. Which, I mean, I understand this; they have massive fandoms, and a big site in that fandom linked both articles.

But I’d really like to have my most popular post actually be a Doctor Who post. So on Wednesday, please. Just get the word out. Link the post to your followers on various social media, put it on your own blog, submit it to Reddit or wherever. But I’d really like to see the Rose post become my most-read. So if you can bring yourself to do it, link it. Get the word out. Please. Make this one big for me.

And also, here, in the last bit of quiet before the storm, let me just say this to those of you who have read the blog through the classic series and the wilderness years, before it got to the big, famous, currently popular stuff. Thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for buying books, thank you for supporting this blog, and thank you for making this the most rewarding project I've ever worked on. Thank you for making the comments an online community I'm proud to shepherd. Thank you for everything.

Comments

Eric Gimlin 4 years, 2 months ago

Nice place, like what you've done with it.

It seems odd with you thanking us, you're the one who has been sharing multiple books worth of Doctor Who and related commentary with us for a few years now. But for whatever we've given you in return, you're quite welcome.

Also, and I should have said this a little sooner: Thank you for taking the time to cover the wilderness years. I've learn a lot (and read a lot of good books and heard some good audios) because of it.

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Nick Smale 4 years, 2 months ago

A few hours before the debut of "Rose", BBC1 broadcast a programme about Doctor Who called "A New Dimension". You can see it on YouTube here. Although it wasn't obviously significant at the time, the identity of the documentary's Scottish accented narrator will be immediately clear to anyone who watches it today. So, even before "Rose" aired, Davies was dropping a gigantic clue about the future of Doctor Who, and we didn't even know it...

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Wm Keith 4 years, 2 months ago

I don't know when Billie Piper was cast, but by 2005 she was a familiar revelation to TV critics and at least to some viewers. She starred in the opening episode (and in one other) of the BBC's 2003 contemporary adaptation of the "Canterbury Tales" and was praised in the reviews. "It was a shining debut" (The Guardian).

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Tiffany Korta 4 years, 2 months ago

If I remeber right all the paper bought into the hype, even the Mail who seem to hate the BBC on principle. The fact that RTD constantly played the press whilst Moffat doesn't seem to is probably why every now and again the paper claim the show if failing. Even if it's pulling around 5 million views a weeks.

I don't agree with much Lawerance Miles say's about the new series but I do agree that by the end of it RTD was buying into his own press.

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BerserkRL 4 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the link. That is surreal.

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BerserkRL 4 years, 2 months ago

Hey! The new site's CAPTCHAs are a lot easier than the old site's. Maybe there's hope for humans in the brave new future after all.

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Nick Smale 4 years, 2 months ago

If I remember correctly, Piper attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School and was originally training to become an actor. So her story isn't so much "that most banal of pop star moves, a transition to acting" as "actor returns to her original career plan after temporarily getting diverted into pop".

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Wm Keith 4 years, 2 months ago

Or maybe you have unwittingly become the robot.

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Alex Antonijevic 4 years, 2 months ago

You've had this place redecorated, haven't you? Mmm, I don't like it.

Seriously though, it is pretty good. The background pattern is a little rough on the eyes, though.

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Ewa Woowa 4 years, 2 months ago

You've had this place redecorated, haven't you?
Mmm, I don't... Oh stuff... You've all beaten me to it...

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John Callaghan 4 years, 2 months ago

And thank *you*, Mr. Sandifer.

That sense of "how are they going to do *that*?" when a new Doctor/phase of the show is announced is something crucial, I think. When the speculation for the next Doctor begins, I never feel that Alan Davies/Paterson Joseph/Eddie Izzard/Benedict Cumberbatch etc. would be right. Raise that question with the audience - but then deliver a good answer.

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Scott 4 years, 2 months ago

Ooh, swanky new digs.

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William Whyte 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes, thank you. This has been great.

I think saying that Ecclestone isn't a stereotypical British actor isn't quite right. It's not like he's one of a kind; he's in a long tradition including people like Daniel Craig, Michael Sheen, Ray MacAnally and arguably Bob Hoskins (though London working class is arguably a different strand from everywhere else). It seems that what you're reaching for here is the idea that *by American standards* he's not a stereotypical British actor (or, more simply, he's not a Masterpiece Theater actor). Or, even more directly, that he's not a stereotypical Doctor.

I remember being very excited by the news when he was announced (and I continue to be excited by it -- for me, Eccleston is in the top tier of Doctors, although it's hard to disassociate how good he is from how good everything around him is too). But you're absolutely right to bring up the "how will they do that?" factor. Russell T Davies, Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper seemed like three things that did not fit together in any recognisable shape.

BTW, couple of typoes: "Eccleston is a major and respected Doctor" -- I think you mean "actor"; "shot across the bough" -- bow.

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Scott 4 years, 2 months ago

I remember one day back in 2003 (or 4, whenever it was), reading someone speculating on what-is-now-Gallifrey Base that Christopher Eccleston might be being cast as the Doctor. I replied with a comment along the lines that I thought it would be fantastic if he was going to be the Doctor, but he'd never in a million years go for it, scoffed to myself, switched the computer off and went to bed.

The next day, it was announced that Christopher Eccleston had been cast as the Doctor.

I sulked for a week and closed my prophecy agency. Since then, I have learnt to never say anything is impossible.

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John Callaghan 4 years, 2 months ago

(Tries hard to resist. Weakens. Gives in.)

I think it's actually spelt 'typos'.

(And 'spelt' is legitimate where I'm from. Honest.)

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John Callaghan 4 years, 2 months ago

In the Daily Mirror (I think it was) they mistakenly announced that Bill Nighy had got the role. He's an actor much closer to what everyone would have been expecting, I think.

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doublethreatmagee 4 years, 2 months ago

Has anyone gone with "changed the desktop theme" yet?

Thankyou Phil. This has been an incredible journey.

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Multiple Ducks 4 years, 2 months ago

As someone who only came to Doctor Who with the new series, but found you just as you were winding up the Nintendo Project and starting Eruditorum, and dispite being often ignorant to the show's history, I'm incredibly glad you took me on this journey. Coming here three times a week introduced me to stories, creators, and the strange pieces of cultural driftwood that I would otherwise have never known about, and made me a more critical and slightly more obsessed Doctor Who fan.

Thankyou for an engaging and incredibly thorough education, Doctor Sandifer.

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Lewis Christian 4 years, 2 months ago

Love the new site/design!

I was going to suggest getting a Twitter account but you have one. It's cheeky but a clever way to get more readers is to hashtag #DoctorWho on Saturdays and link to your posts. I've found a good number of followers by doing that.

Cannot wait for Rose!

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Lewis Christian 4 years, 2 months ago

Also, following the latest episode, I think it'd be fun if you had a new subtitle for the 'new series'... Encyclopedia Gallifreya, perhaps?

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J Mairs 4 years, 2 months ago

No meta-commentary on Wednesday?! D: I was hoping you'd paste over the first paragraph with a plug for the Graham Norton show!


I've been following you obsessively since Hartnell or Troughton - I cannot remember exactly which post because it didn't seem important at the time. You were obviously never going to complete it!
I only found your site because I went on to your Gallifrey Base profile in order to give you a piece of my mind/references to discredit some point you'd made in a post that has since become irrelevant; I'm hooked.


So I'm assuming we'll be returning to those lovely quote titles for each blog entry.

It's pretty much a given that the next post will be called "One Day I shall come back", right?

... I have goosebumps...

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Matthew Blanchette 4 years, 2 months ago

Indeed. Dear god, the paisleys... O_O

The old blue scheme was so much more preferable and relevant to the topic; this, on the other hand, is... eye-watering. It distracts (and detracts) from the text.

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Matthew Blanchette 4 years, 2 months ago

Ironically, I would've preferred coral, in this instance. :-P

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jane 4 years, 2 months ago

Has the main text always been so gray? I could have sworn it used to be solid black. I'd much prefer solid black to charcoal, easier on the eyes.

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Matthew Blanchette 4 years, 2 months ago

I've been following you, Phil, since... oh, dear god, how long? I think since the Tom Baker era. "Horror of Fang Rock" I definitely remember. Or maybe it was "Talons of Weng-Chiang", I'm not sure; it's... nebulous. The memory tricks.

Upon joining, I looked back, and saw all the wonderful prior work you'd written. I've kept reading through the Wilderness Years; I only wish you'd kept with those Years longer, because it'd mean we'd hit "Rose" later. The later that happened... the farther off the end of this blog would've been. :-(

...but that's in the future. For now, there's the present. Shall we jump in? :-)

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jane 4 years, 2 months ago

Easier captchas? Funny, got the very first one wrong. Isn't there some way to automatically pre-approve people posting from certain accounts?

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occono 4 years, 2 months ago

Oh, was kind of hoping you'd do a full article on The second Coming. Oh well.

Thank you, Mr. Sandifer.

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Christopher Haynes 4 years, 2 months ago

Are you suggesting we drink this blog?

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Andrew Hickey 4 years, 2 months ago

Jane, unfortunately, Bloger's functionality for that sort of thing is pretty much non-existent. It's the main reason I use Wordpress instead.

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Froborr 4 years, 2 months ago

Last summer I was at the Maryland Renaissance Festival getting a bit maudlin in the cups, and my then-fiancee asked me what was up. I told her I was thinking about your site, which I'd just discovered (we had joked about attending the festival dressed as the Doctor and Martha, so it was quasi-relevant), and what an awesome idea it was, and how much I wished I could do something like that.

"So why don't you?" she asked.

A few weeks later I launched my own pale, pony-themed shadow of your project.

So thank you, Mr. Sandifer. I've learned so much from this blog--not just about Doctor Who, but about Britain, about history, and about writing--and it's been a massive source of inspiration for my own endeavors.

Also, am I the only person that likes the paisley?

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Lewis Christian 4 years, 2 months ago

Not quite!

But there are a lot of 'spillages' into the wider world within Sandifer's essays, and we're constantly surrounded by knowledge and fact etc. so it'd be quite fitting in that respect.

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Lewis Christian 4 years, 2 months ago

Rose could have a plethora of quote titles:

One day I shall come back.
Change, my dear.
He's back, and it's about time.
Trip of a lifetime.
First Things First, But Not Necessarily In That Order.
You decided the universe is better off without you. But the universe doesn't agree.
Everybody knows that everybody dies. But not every day. Not today.
To hell with the raggedy. Time to put on a show!

Is it weird that I'm just as excited by seeing what quotes will be used as well as reading the articles themselves?

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Ununnilium 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, the doctor is a science guy. (No, no...)

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Nick Smale 4 years, 2 months ago

Just discovered Phil's "Rose" essay in my email inbox. Thank you...

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 2 months ago

Note, everybody, that the thanks precede him actually reading it. :)

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JJ Gauthier 4 years, 2 months ago

Thank you, Mr. Sandifer. I've been following this blog since Marco Polo, and learned not only a tremendous amount about my favorite show, but seen entirely new ways of looking at media, politics, and a whole variety of philosophies. It's been a wonderful, enlightening experience, and I can't wait to see where it heads as we plunge headlong into New Who.

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 2 months ago

True. And perhaps more substantively, she's actually good at acting. But the actual biography of Billie Piper is, for these purposes, less interesting than the question of what was signified to the broader public by her casting.

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 2 months ago

Jane - I've had the text darkened.

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Ununnilium 4 years, 2 months ago

I remember, when I first heard about the casting, thinking "Wait, the pop singer? Well, I guess we'll see", and after I was well into the first season, "Did I confuse her with a pop singer with a similar name?"

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Ununnilium 4 years, 2 months ago

Looks better, definitely.

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Scott 4 years, 2 months ago

It has an almost 'clockwork' motif in places which seems appropriate, I think.

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Theonlyspiral 4 years, 2 months ago

At least it's not Leopard print...

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Theonlyspiral 4 years, 2 months ago

It feels very "1970's academia". I think it fits PERFECTLY.

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Theonlyspiral 4 years, 2 months ago

First things first but not necessarily in that order... but it IS excellent. Thank you very much.

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Theonlyspiral 4 years, 2 months ago

I've been following since...oh...it must be sometime during the Hinchcliffe years, although it took me some time to catch up. Thank you for expanding my palate of Doctor who. I honestly would not have gone back further than Paul McGann without this blog.

What more can I say? Thank You.

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Matthew Celestis 4 years, 2 months ago

As a Sylvester McCoy fan I very much disagree with the suggestion that paisley is irrelevant to the topic!

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Matthew Blanchette 4 years, 2 months ago

I don't. Blecch. :-P

(Only half-joking, sorry.)

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Matthew Blanchette 4 years, 2 months ago

That was red paisley, though... although it might be nice to change the blog's colors for each Doctor's era, don't you think? ;-)

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Ross 4 years, 2 months ago

I've just started reading it. Reading this article on the new show, inexplicably in my email instead of in that blue-bordered blogger site, instead of in my RSS reader. It feels slightly naughty. Like I've somehow got my hands on something that isn't meant to be unleashed on the world yet. Like this was a leak. With the wrong theme music at the end, left in the back seat of a taxi in an unlabled box with the name "TORCHWOOD" scribbled on the disc in magic marker.

I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

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Froborr 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes! It's like a clockwork made of flowers and spirals!

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jane 4 years, 2 months ago

Much better, thank you!

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jane 4 years, 2 months ago

I will never object to paisley. :)

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Josh Marsfelder 4 years, 2 months ago

Aw, we love you too, Phil :-)

What can I say that hasn't already been said? Thanks for the blog, thanks for the books, thanks for your enthusiasm and creativity and for your utterly unique and personal take on such an important pop culture phenomenon.

And from me personally, thank you for showing me and the rest of the Internet that there's a future for equal parts serious, quirky and unorthodox academic analysis of television, comic books and video games. I can't say I wouldn't be doing what I do without you, but I'd be doing it in a far more lonely and far less supportive environment and with significantly less confidence or expectations for any kind of success. Thanks for that, for allowing such a vibrant community to flourish and for being a good friend both to me and to us all.

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 2 months ago

For me the point of the paisley is in part the contrast with the grunge typography of the banner at the top. I tend to like stark color schemes and the vintage/punk collision, especially when done in color palates other than "steampunk."

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 2 months ago

None of you have it. :)

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Ross 4 years, 2 months ago

I do like the paisley in principle, it's just that in practice, every time my eyes do a saccade, the pattern makes the image processing parts of my brain crash for a second.

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Theonlyspiral 4 years, 2 months ago

Before I read it my money was on:

"Who do you think?" (Rose) as the title. Now I have read it, it's not really in the spirit to guess it.

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spoilersbelow 4 years, 2 months ago

"Tennant was a known Doctor Who fan..."

That's a bit like saying water is wet, isn't it? The man got into acting with the express purpose of being The Doctor. The Royal Shakespeare Company? Feh, just a stepping stone to the REALLY good roles...

I imagine the first Doctor Who meeting between Russell and David being much like the apocryphal one between Alan Moore and Julius Schwartz (?) over the last Superman story, where Moore practically leapt across the table and grabbed Schwartz by the lapels, shouting "You must let me write that book!"

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Anton B 4 years, 2 months ago

May I be totally English about this and just use understatement - No thank YOU Dr. Sandifer.

You've provided hours of amusement and sometimes inspired awestruck regard for your erudition and academic prowess.

I will certainly be promoting this site on my facebook acct. on Wednesday.

As to the 'desktop theme' I like it. That paisley is a bit Madelbrot Set fractal and therefore eminently timey wimey.

Now...must check my mail for 'Rose'.

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Lewis Christian 4 years, 2 months ago

Matthew, that's a cool idea. I half expect to find 'bad wolf' written somewhere within the pattern now too.

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Theonlyspiral 4 years, 2 months ago

I can't remember where I heard it (likely DVD commentary) Tennent was sitting down with Davies and Gardner and they watched Cassanova and then offered him the role as they sat on the couch. According to the account I heard, he originally thought they were kidding.

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James V 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, I've been here since "The Highlanders," (I don't comment much, but the level of thinking here is way above the point where I feel I have anything worthwhile to contribute). What a ride it has been. There are times when I've looked forward to the blog updates more than the new Doctor Who episode that week! (Usually when said episode has the name 'Gatiss' attached). In retrospect, it's only just hit me how long and crazy the journey between season 26 and here has been. I eagerly await more! Some of my favorite stories come from the upcoming eras (Your entry on "The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon" can't come soon enough!)

This blog has honestly given me a whole new perspective on what Doctor Who (and storytelling in general) means to me. So thank you. Cheers, Phil!

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Ununnilium 4 years, 2 months ago

I won't say on Rose, since I'm a backer, but I'm guessing End of the World is going to be "Worlds Out There".

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Pen Name Pending 4 years, 2 months ago

I found it a little distasteful towards the end of the run--the middle of series 3 or so, only that was mostly because they harped on Rose's absence--when it became a little too self-congratulatory. Especially "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" and The End of Time, the ending of which really distanced me from the whole Tennant era. I can understand it if you started from series 1 or 2, but it doesn't work in the entire context of the show, or indeed just looking at it from someone who entered the series a year later.

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Alan 4 years, 2 months ago

I've been here since Invasion of Time ... which was heartbreaking because the Leela era was my favorite and I missed it completely.

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Cleofis 4 years, 2 months ago

I've been here since...well, I actually can't remember, but not terribly long (partway through the wilderness years, I think), and I just wanted to say thank you for providing both a comprehensive way into this sprawling thing called Doctor Who, and providing cultural context and other bits and pieces for this relatively neophyte fan. I've only dipped my toe into the old series so far, but I plan on going further largely due to this blog, so thank you for that :) Can't wait for the Morrison/Moore project!

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elvwood 4 years, 2 months ago

I've been here since early Hartnell - although I wasn't around for the very beginning, it didn't take me long to catch up - and it's been consistently brilliant. I doubt I'll be able to keep up with the comments from here on (assuming we see as big an increase in the readership as I expect), and I've only occasionally said anything substantive anyway; but I'll still be devouring the entries.

Many thanks! Oh, and watch out for kissing in your jolly wonderful Rose entry...

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Pen Name Pending 4 years, 2 months ago

I first became aware of this site near the end of the Wilderness Years posts and checked out some of the stories I had seen. I figured I would get more out of it and began reading from the beginning back in January. I can't believe it's the new series already!

Thanks to this blog, my mind has been opened about storytelling, symbollism, gave me a history lesson and a new perspective on Doctor Who. I've been better at critical analysis and now see things differently. Thanks to you I own a Kindle, started reading Sandman, did some research on postmodernism, and was happy to find The Prisoner on YouTube yesterday.

As I am planning on going into English, this has been a rather important part of my own education!

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Eager Ears 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm not much of an internet commenter, but this seems like a good time to add my voice to the many, and say how much I've enjoyed your unique perspective on Doctor Who. I've been reading it since early in the Hartnell era, and have learned so many interesting things about the show. Various posts have caused me to watch classic stories I otherwise wouldn't have, and see layers that I hadn’t even begun to think of. I especially like your recurring analysis of how Doctor Who uses the imagery and concepts of alchemy – it’ll be interesting to see how/if you’ll be picking up that strand in the new series.

I look forward to the continuance of this awesome blog!

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Matthew Blanchette 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm flattered, Lewis! I doubt Phil'll actually take it up, though, but thanks, regardless. :-)

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ferret 4 years, 2 months ago

There's even heaps more footage of Tennant as Casanova than of Ecclestone as Baxter :-)

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Glenn 4 years, 2 months ago

I found this blog from a link on the Nintendo blog years ago, before I'd seen Doctor Who or developed any interest in it at all. After rapidly catching up on Netflix during the Series Six interregnum I'd check the blog once in a while just to see how far things had progressed; I subscribed shortly after Survival, assuming that surely the TV Movie and new series would follow quickly. What an education this has been! Whenever I've ventured back into one of the old serials I've followed up immediately with the corresponding entry here--just read The Pyramids of Mars last night--and the essays have always been fascinating & illuminating.

Hopefully this isn't gauche, but it would be thrilling to see a project of this scale and with this sort of scholarly & literary perspective applied to the nearly-fifty-year history of Star Trek. Perhaps such a thing exists already, a dozen times over; there's probably less to grab onto in terms of alchemy & genre-bending. I was just thinking, however, that there's something of an analogue between the way that the New Adventures set out to be THE proper extension of Doctor Who going forward and the way Trek tie-in fiction functioned at various times, with novels & comics filling in between the early movies and, later, the rash of "relaunch" novels actively continuing the stories of the various TV series once it was obvious they wouldn't be revisited "in canon."

Congratulations on the success of the blog, and of the Kickstarter. You richly deserve it. Now, off to read Rose!

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Daru 4 years, 2 months ago

Love the paisley myself Philip (I am Scottish, though I know it doesn't come from the town!) - and good typography too, smoother, sleeker in feeling.

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Daru 4 years, 2 months ago

Ah Phil - I want to give YOU a big thank you! I started reading via a link form the Tachyon TV site when it was relaunched. I scrabbled to catch up from Hartnell and read obsessively every post. Just catching up so I can join in on comments by switching between new essays and the older ones not read yet. I have just finished your final 'Trial of a Timelord' essay - interesting then to jump here and find the programme's New Future.

I am a professional storyteller/performer, working also with groups with stories as a therapeutic tool and creating space for folk to explore their own relationship to narratives. Your essays and writings offer such a wealth of inspiration in this field - both for me as a teller and working with story structure - so thank you again.

I was in an interesting position with the relaunch of the show. I had left the show during McCoy's era and not come back. In 2005 I did not read DWM, newspapers, follow any internet news or any kind of fandom. So I had the wonderful shock of Doctor Who appearing almost out of nowhere - and it was good! But more than that I had NO IDEA that Eccleston was leaving and was totally blown away when the regeneration came and Tennant appeared - wow! What a lovely moment that was!

Would be hard to repeat that moment now.

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Spacewarp 4 years, 2 months ago

@Andrew Hickey

"...Bloger's functionality for that sort of thing is pretty much non-existent. It's the main reason I use Wordpress instead..."

And the main reason why Wordpress gets hammered by bots and Blogger doesn't...

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Andrew Hickey 4 years, 2 months ago

But Wordpress *also* has actual working spam filters, so that 'hammering' is invisible to anyone either reading or maintaining the site. I get an average of one spam comment a month getting through the filters and needing to be rejected manually, and I don't think there's been a false positive in their spam filter for more than a year.

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Ross 4 years, 2 months ago

Depends. I had a pretty solid set of spamfilters on my movable type site, and they kept the spam from making it to print, but I was getting hammered so hard by spammers that it exhausted my hosting account's CGI resources, and hosed up the database. The spammers basically decided that if the world wasn't going to see their spam on my site, the world wasn't going to see my site at all.

I "solved" the problem by switching to a much simpler, but less accurate set of spam filters, so that deluge of spam at least didn't eat up so much processing power.

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Assad K 4 years, 2 months ago

I generally feel woefully underqualified to comment on the posts (or even the comments!) but it's always been interesting, never been dull.. So congrats on the revamped TARDIS interior, and looking forward to the next few months!

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maninblackreviews 4 years, 2 months ago

You've redecorated this place. I don't like it.

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Philip Sandifer 4 years, 2 months ago

What, you were worried I didn't see this comment when you posted it back on The Myth Makers? :)

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GeneralNerd 3 years, 6 months ago

As an American Doctor Who fan, this article absolutely floored me. I've never been aware or much interested in any actor's career before Doctor Who (about the only thing I did know, before reading this blog anyway, was that Davison was well known before his time as the Fifth Doctor) but I never suspected or had heard anywhere that Billie Piper was best known as a pop singer before Doctor Who.

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